Book Review: Ghost Hawk

Book Review: Ghost HawkGhost Hawk by Susan Cooper
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on August 27th 2013
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon

From Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, a story of adventure and friendship between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler.

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can take only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and the amazing metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.

John Wakely is only ten when his father dies, but he has already experienced the warmth and friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren’t as accepting of the native people. When he is apprenticed to a barrel-maker, John sees how quickly the relationships between settlers and natives are deteriorating. His friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

The intertwining stories of Little Hawk and John Wakely are a fascinating tale of friendship and an eye-opening look at the history of our nation. Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper also includes a timeline and an author’s note that discusses the historical context of this important and moving novel.

Ghost Hawk is told in two parts, the first following a young Native American boy named Little Hawk who goes through his journey to manhood and returns to find his village decimated by a plague. The heartbreaking moments in this book really moved me and I loved watching Little Hawk's journey and how much he changed. When a horrible moment happens, Little Hawk finds himself stuck on the earth after his own demise.

The second part of the book was from the point of view of John Wakely, who watched Little Hawk killed. Not only that, but the two boys had met as children and having that connection made the terrible death of Little Hawk even more impacting. The rest of the book follows John as he deals with his father's death, a new stepfather and even a new job and home. When he leaves home, he finds himself closer to Little Hawk, drawn to an island where his ghost can communicate to him.

These events transform John into believing Native Americans as equals rather than as ignorant. That being said, I have to say I prefered the first part of the book, which felt more of a natural plotline and then when it switched I just felt a little thrown. John was not as strong as a character and the situations he found himself seemed too easily resolved. I know there as already been some controversary over the content, which seems to happen a lot when it comes to native american literature.

Little Hawk was quite a captivating character and I did like seeing the dichotomy between how he was raised versus John, who was a more open-minded settler. I just think there were moments where the danger of his ideas and ways were too quickly resolved and packaged up easily in the plot. The writing itself was lovely and I felt as though I was part of that time period. I do like how it puts a positive and fair light on native americans and the settlers that were willing to work with them.

Final Verdict: Even with the issues I had, Ghost Hawk was a beautifully written book that kept me reading until the very end.

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